'Credible' Email Bomb Threat Shuts Down LA Schools... Sent From 'madbomber@cock.li'

from the that's-credible? dept

As you may have heard, Los Angeles closed all of its public schools today based on a bomb threat that the district deemed to be "credible." Later in the day, New York City's school district announced that it had received the same, or a similar, bomb threat, and had deemed it not credible and kept its schools open. Later in the day, it was reported that the bomb threats appeared to be a hoax.

Now, rather than deeming them "credible" or "not credible" perhaps a better term would be "incredible."

That's because it now appears that both bomb threats were sent from the throwaway email address "madbomber@cock.li." "cock.li" is an anonymous emailer service, whose website I wouldn't necessarily recommend visiting -- especially if you're not a fan of autoplay videos. Either way, the guy who operates cock.li -- Vincent Canfield -- posted to Twitter that both threats were sent via the "meme" emailer, and that he had received subpoenas trying to find out who was behind the "madbomber" account.

Canfield has posted the details of his contact with law enforcement over all of this, including two phone calls with police where he asks about the gag clause in the subpoena and is told that it's a "request" rather than an order. The first phone call was a bit more confrontational.

The releases also include the emails sent by the NYPD:
Good Morning,

Attached is a subpoena requesting subscriber, IP logs and other user information pertaining to a Cock.li email address, which used to send a threatening email to the superintendent of the NYC Public schools. We are requesting that these results be expedited do to the severity of this threat, thank you for your attention in this matter and have a nice day.

Detective Michael Arena

NYPD Intelligence Bureau
It does seem that that New York City made the right call in judging the threats to be non-credible, though a little ridiculous in originally pretending that Canfield was gagged over discussing them. And, it does appear that the LA Unified School District over-reacted in shutting down all of its schools (which it did without even talking to the LAPD) -- though, to some extent, you can understand why such a decision was made.

Still, it seems that a bomb threat coming from "madbomber@cock.li" probably should have raised a few eyebrows...

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 4:03pm

    Oh good lord.....what's next, an e-mail from @nigge.rs? @redchannit?

    The edgelords need to stop this stupid shit before legislation causes hell for everyone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 4:16pm

      Re:

      Someone should just put us out of our misery and create an automatic threat mailer that e-mails some kind of threat to the whole country every day. Then we have to chose between cowering at home, or sucking it up and going about our business even though we might not be 100% safe.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 4:16pm

    Could have been worse...

    At least the bomb threats weren't sent encrypted.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 4:23pm

    >Cock.li
    4chan strikes again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 4:46pm

    jesus christ. did that intelligence guy really say 'do to'?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ThatDevilTech (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 6:26pm

      Re:

      Add to that "which used to" and I question the intelligence of this intelligence officer. Didn't bother to proofread, probably ham-fisted the email out like a drunken Grape Ape.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 4:54pm

    "Are you recording this call? "

    "Yes."

    "Why?"

    That's why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 5:13pm

    Really? A subpoena can be sent by email? Would it be binding? What happened to personal service?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Will-INI (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 5:44pm

    Facepalm

    The softest targets are those in power who don't understand the internet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    mrharrysan, 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:47pm

    "do to the severity of this threat..." smh

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:53pm

    > We are requesting that these results be expedited do to the severity of this threat

    ... the severity of a threat judged non-credible at the time?

    If it had been Los Angeles issuing that subpoena, I wouldn't have raised an eyebrow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    aerilus, 15 Dec 2015 @ 11:28pm

    I will say the detective did conduct the conversation with some politeness.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 12:52am

    I very much enjoyed the media breathlessly reporting that this was a credible threat sent from "overseas"!

    Then the officials in LA who decided to get in early with the don't you dare judge us in retrospect because that is easy, it is not easy to brain while in the midst of a(n imaginary) crisis.

    Why did they have to freak out?
    San Bernardino!!!
    Because the terrorists are everywhere all the time!!!!!

    We have lost the ability to handle life.
    We can't go out tonight, there might be terrorists.
    We can't go shopping, there might be terrorists.
    We can't... because terrorists.

    We somehow expect to be 100% safe all the time, and we will punish anyone who fails to do that impossible task for us. Had this story broken while kids were in class, you'd have had tons of parents descending to 'save' their baby. A nearby car would have backfired and oh hey look at the pandemonium and injuries over people running from their shadows.

    There are not terrorists everywhere.
    Not all brown people are terrorists.
    Not all people of other faiths are wishing you death.
    Yes there are terrorists in the world.
    Overreacting to everything is what the terrorists (and those who $$$ benefit) want you to do.
    Stop demanding the impossible, and live your life.
    Learn to manage your own real risks, and stop focusing on boogeymen who send emails from domains involving cocks and anuses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy2020 (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 7:43am

      Re:

      Oceania must prevail over Eurasia for our safety! Thank goodness we have Big Brother and the party to protect us!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 17 Dec 2015 @ 1:27pm

      Re:

      Then the officials in LA who decided to get in early with the don't you dare judge us in retrospect because that is easy, it is not easy to brain while in the midst of a(n imaginary) crisis.

      It's totally understandable. An overreaction to a fake threat gets them in mildly hot water for a few days or weeks. Can you imagine the crapstorm if kids had been killed and it turned out there was a threat that they didn't deem credible? This is the calculus that results in overreaction, and I can't say I fault them. Is having school closed for a day really that awful?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Klaus, 16 Dec 2015 @ 3:25am

    What use is the NSA / GCHQ?

    "...and that he had received subpoenas trying to find out who was behind the "madbomber" account."

    The capabilities of the so-called security services impress me less and less each day. Their massive data centres, the constant monitoring, all those analysts, and they can't answer a simple question about a couple of eMails?

    Seriously, what use is the NSA / GCHQ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 3:39am

      Re: What use is the NSA / GCHQ?

      well because we let some program lapse this was able to happen. We need to bring that program back and go even further, otherwise bad things could happen.

      Nothing like portraying current events in any way needed to further the party line.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 3:29am

    And this, comrades, is one reason why the analogy of "yelling 'fire' in a crowded theatre" as an exception to free expression is nonsensical.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 4:14am

    The guy who runs the email provider emailed his users, I think he makes some great points.

    " While people that abuse cock.li are actually the scum of this site and waste so much of my time, it's amusing that an administration can take a few E-mails and shut down a school district of hundreds of thousands of students as a result. This is an administration problem and the fact that NYC didn't close schools it wasn't a "credible" threat is especially telling of the subjectivity that goes into making sweeping decisions like this that effect [sic] countless people.

    We live in an age where anonymous messages can be sent with extreme ease (not just through cock.li). When someone uses a meme E-mail provider to threaten your organization, pulling the plug on all students and wasting over 1,800 combined YEARS of student-classroom time is a PR stunt and another example of officials employing security theater to make their students and parents feel safe. This cannot be demonstrated clearer than the fact that when something like this happens, and copycat threats inevitably come soon after, the same response is not deployed.

    All of this over from an E-mail from a meme email provider. Sorry for the political E-mail, hopefully this situation adds more kek to your day than it has added me stress."
    snatched from the Ars Technica coverage
    http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/12/all-la-schools-shut-down-over-message-sent-from-8 chans-e-mail-host-cock-li/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 6:54am

    Overheard on a newscast in the background...
    They disregarded the "threat" because it read like the plot to recent episodes of Homeland.

    I think this is a very telling thing about the difference in responses. Many of the most vocal cheerleaders always talk about these huge massive incidents that would look right on a soundstage, ignoring that the actual threats are never that big and complicated. In order to protect us from movie threats, we need magical movie solutions that can't exist in reality. They get frustrated trying to find these mythical things despite spending billions on tech that is supposed to solve the movie problem... while ignoring that none of what they have focused on has found the actual events that happened. Then they try to puff up the real events with movie magic to keep everyone focused on that unreachable goal.

    We can built crypto that locks out everyone but the government who can just have a "hacker" type swordfish into the master supercomputer to unlock the massive 300 page powerpoint presentation that lays out the next terror attack.

    Instead its 4 guys texting and emailing with no crypto or opsec, they are on watch lists, supposed to be tracked, and the system gets to caught up trying to figure out if there was a secret code in how this person 10 steps removed form them ordered food in a cafe in the UAE that will tell them where the nuclear material for the dirty bomb is hidden... meanwhile the bad guys acquire weapons and terrorize a city. They spend more time talking about what country to blame as the source, the "crypto" that hid them from the all seeing eye, and how much more liberty we need to surrender to be safe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    New Mexico Mark, 16 Dec 2015 @ 7:27am

    This whole problem is easily fixed

    Yesterday one of the news shows panned over the front of an LA school where the school had a "Drug Free Zone" sign prominently posted.

    Sheesh! Why not just add "Bomb Free Zone" signs to all the schools? And if you want to be *really* proactive (and cost conscious), just cover everything with "Bad-Stuff Free Zone" signs and take all the others down?

    Mission accomplished.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 7:47am

    Was Ther Ever a Real Bomb Threat?

    I'm curious and have no idea where to look to find out.

    Has there EVER been a specific bomb threat that was real resulting in an actual bomb going off or being found?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 8:30am

      Re: Was Ther Ever a Real Bomb Threat?

      I doubt it. If an actual bomb is found the explosives are traceable. Not to mention all manufacturers keep records of who purchases their explosive materials.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Will-INI (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 8:45am

      Re: Was Ther Ever a Real Bomb Threat?

      Actual bombers don't threaten, they just do. It's trolls that threaten. Madbomber@cock would be a good DJ name btw.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John85851 (profile), 16 Dec 2015 @ 5:44pm

        Re: Re: Was Ther Ever a Real Bomb Threat?

        I was just about to say this.

        I'd be interested to learn if there was ever any kind of terrorist activity that happened *after* a threat was called in. Like you said, threats are just that- threats... or maybe distractions.

        Did anyone call New York on 9/11 to say they would be flying planes into buildings? Did anyone call in a threat to San Bernadino, Sandy Hook, or any other mass shooting sites?

        Yet the school officials are worried that this will be the one time (out of 10,000 threats) that something happens and they'll be blamed for not doing something.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 17 Dec 2015 @ 1:30pm

      Re: Was Ther Ever a Real Bomb Threat?

      Has there EVER been a specific bomb threat that was real resulting in an actual bomb going off or being found?

      Yeah, didn't you see the documentary Die Hard: With a Vengeance? That was a huge bomb!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2015 @ 1:10pm

    False flag.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 5 Jan 2016 @ 8:35am

    Where do you "expect" the threat to come from?

    Why wouldn't a bad guy use an anonymous remailer service? Do you really think an actual threat is going to use their own email address?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 5 Jan 2016 @ 9:22am

      Re: Where do you "expect" the threat to come from?

      Do you really think an actual threat is going to use their own email address?

      We just had a story on here about how most terrorists are not that smart or careful. They often use real names, regular credit cards, etc. because either they're dumb or they know the intelligence services are really bad at catching terrorists before the attack. It's not unbelievable to think some idiot with a bomb would use his real email address.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JustMe (profile), 5 Jan 2016 @ 10:55am

    Re: nasch

    Eh, fair comment. We aren't dealing with rocket surgeons in many cases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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